Non-Biodegradable Waste: A Threat That Demands Immediate Attention


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Non-Biodegradable Waste

Non-Biodegradable Waste – An average person’s morning starts with a pouch of milk. He cuts it open, pours the milk into a cup and deposits the cover in the trash.

Someone peels the vegetables and throws the peels into the trash can.

We get the products we buy offline or online delivered to our homes. Here too, the packaging is thrown into the trash can.

The instances given above are a few examples of the domestic waste we generate. There is also industrial waste. This accounts for a larger share of the waste we produce every day.

The amount of waste we generate is the same as the amount of products we consume.

Every day, humans across the globe generate tons of waste. And it is now a threat that demands our immediate attention.

These enormous amounts of wastes are the result of the ever-increasing industrial domestic and business activities all over the world. Landfills and incineration emit greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane.

The US, for instance, generates more than 250 million tons of waste every year. In India, the same as 62000000 tons. This, according to experts, will increase to 150000000 tons by 2030.

What is the difference between non-biodegradable and bio-degradable waste?

Non-biodegradable wastes stay in the environment for a long time. They don’t decompose naturally. And they cause havoc in the ecosystem. Plastic, battery, polybags, glass, bottles, etc. fall in this category. They, however, are convenient to use and are therefore preferred to their biodegradable alternatives.

Biodegradable waste doesn’t cause any harm to the environment. They get decomposed by natural agents like fire, water, air, micro-organisms or soil, etc. Besides, these are beneficial to the environment in one way or the other. Wastes from plants and animals, dead animals and plants, vegetables, paper, food, etc. belong to this group.

Impact of non-biodegradable waste



On land

Non-biodegradable wastes cause wastage of land Some substances leak into the environment and cause trouble to living beings

On marine life

Non-degradable wastes like plastic containers cause health issues to fish and other living beings in water.

Pollution due to plastic

Plastic is there in every nook and corner of the world. It is there in oceans, in forests, in the ice-covered arctic and even in remote islands.

We still don’t know how long it will take for the oil-based plastic to degrade. But one thing is sure. If the plastic gets into the soil, cleaning up becomes a herculean task. The plastic bottles and other things that come up on the seashores form just a tip of the trash bag, as experts call it. Up to two-thirds of the plastic wastes, we dump into the ocean reach its depths. And they create a vast wasteland inside. The concerning thing is that these plastic degrade into small pieces and cause damage to the ecosystems.

Plastic lobby, however, has successfully lulled the world into a slumber in the matter. They make us believe that much of the plastic we produce gets recycled. In reality, it is only less than 50% of the plastic is getting recycled. The situation is much worse in developing countries. Even here, very little is turned back into the packaging. The rest gets turned into something of lesser value. It implies that recycling too, to a great extent, just delays the process of the same getting into the landfills.

Combine it with the plastic being imported to foreign countries. Plastic pollution is a grave threat that demands concerted efforts to find a viable solution. The greater part of the plastic waste being produced is exported to the southern part of the world. For instance, China alone imported up to 8000000 tons of plastic every year. In 2018, the country banned it.

Plastic wastage is aggravating climate change. The emission of greenhouse gases from plastic containers adversely affects the world’s ability to maintain global temperature.

Managing non-biodegradable waste in our country

The steps to manage biodegradable waste should begin from the time they get generated. It requires utmost care at every stage; collection, transportation and disposal. Each stage should have a separate process, different from that of non-hazardous and biodegradable wastes. In our country, the State Pollution Control Board is responsible for taking care of the same. The Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Climate Change presides its activities in each State.

The country has taken the following measures to manage the non-biodegradable wastes generated here:

  • Every municipal corporation here has a special storage house in one of its wards to collect wastes for processing.
  • The authority hires rag pickers to separate them. Non-biodegradable wastes are then gathered for further treatment.
  • The corporation keeps different types of wastes in different colored baskets. This makes it easy for an average person to identify the same.
  • The corporation uses different vehicles to handle different types of wastes. They are covered so as to avoid spillage.
  • The authority also offers other ways to dispose of non-degradable wastes using scientific methods.

Biodegradable plastics

Biodegradable plastic is the type of plastic that gets decomposed by natural agents like microorganisms in certain conditions. The uniform standards maintained across the globe here help boost consumer confidence. It will also have a compostable logo.

Materials used

Biodegradable plastic can be used in different ways. It can be used to pack food. It can also be used in machines. One can also use different fillers for the purpose. Clay, paper and flowers are just a few to mention.

Managing polymer waste

Polymer waste can be disposed of through a process called pyrolysis. Here, the waste is heated up to 400-600°C in the presence of a catalyst. A volatile substance comes out of the process. This can be condensed to produce pyrolysis oil. We can use this oil after the process of purification to heat anything. This way, the polymer becomes sustainable.

Construction waste management

Wastes that are generated through construction and demolition require separate handling. They are collected at designated facilities. And they are reused for projects meant to boost infrastructure.

Sustainable waste management mechanism

Dumping wastes into landfills is sure to cause wastage of land. It can be taken care of a process known as plasma arc gasification. This is an eco-friendly mechanism and will reduce solid waste by up to 95%.

The Council of Scientific & Industrial Research has developed a new technology to manage waste. It features an automated waste segregation mechanism. It separates wastes in accordance with assigned categories. Municipal authorities nowadays visit factories and similar establishments and encourage scientific disposal of waste.

Non-Biodegradable Waste FAQs:

1. Can you cite some examples of biodegradable waste?

Some of the biodegradable waste include the following: • Dead plants and animals • Vegetables • Human and animal excreta • Fruits • Sewage sludge • Flowers

2. How do non-biodegradable wastes impact our environment?

Given below are some of the effects non-degradable wastes can have on the environment: • Some of them generate gases that are harmful both to humans and animals. • Such wastes take long time to decompose. Recycling them is a herculean task. • They block our drainage system and cause havoc in the environment.

3. What does the term “biodegradable” mean?

The term “biodegradable” means that it gets decomposed by natural agents like water or microorganisms.

4. How does biodegradable waste benefit our environment?

They do the following for the environment: • Are easier to recycle • Minimize our impact on the environment • Use less energy to recycle.

5. Is egg shell a non-biodegradable waste?

No. Eggshell is biodegradable waste. It is comprised mostly of calcium carbonate. It decomposes within no time after being disposed of.

6. Can you name the four types of wastes?

Following are the four types of wastes we produce: • Domestic waste • Agricultural waste • Industrial waste • Commercial waste

7. Is cotton a non-biodegradable waste?

No. Cotton is one among the most biodegradable wastes we generate. It decomposes quite fast. Pure cotton takes just one week and if it is impure, it may take up to five months to decompose.

8. Why plastic is preferred even when it is non-biodegradable?

Following factors make plastic the generally preferred choice even though it is non-biodegradable: • Affordable manufacturing • It lasts long. • It is flexible.

9. Can you mention some fibers that are non-biodegradable?

Some of the fibers that are non-biodegradable include: • Polyester • Acrylic • Nylon

10. What are some biodegradable fibers?

Biodegradable fibers include the following: • Silk • Hem • Jute • Ramie
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